Chicago Tribune

University Professor Says Her Morality Is Effect of Fear.
Protean Shapes Assumed by Her to Captivate the Male Victim.

  Prof. W. I. Thomas of the University of Chicago is likely to receive more of the sharp criticism and censure which was visited upon him several months ago when his book, "Sex and Society," appeared. His views of women, as expressed in that book, arouse the indignation of many prominent women who declared his reputation as a sociologist did not prevent him from being unjust to women.

In the October issues of the American Magazine, Prof. Thomas has an article entitled "The Adventititous Character of Women," in which he handles the fair sex without gloves and points out the origin and cause of what are generally considered their foibles, weaknesses, and blandishments.

"There is a basis of truth," he says, "in Pope’s hard saying that ‘women have no characters at all.’ Because their problem is not to accommodate themselves to the solid realities of the world of experience and sense, but to adjust themselves to the personalities of men, it is not surprising that they should assume protean shapes.

He points out that primitive woman was practically a slave and beast of burden, but with the growth of civilization she gained control over man by coquetry.

Man Easy Mark for Woman.

"Moreover," he asserts, "man is so affected by these charms of woman and offers so easy a mark for her machinations as to invite exploitation. Having been evolved largely through the stimulus of the female presence, he continues to be more profoundly affected by her presence and behavior than by any other stimulus whatever, unless it be the various forms of combat. From Samson and Odysseus down, history and story recognize the ease and frequency with which a woman makes a fool of a man."

As for the morality of woman, the professor considers it mere expediency rather than an innate virtue. In fact, he asserts, her morality is not her own, but was made for her by man. This moral code which man has invented for her, he says, "has brought to the front elemental traits which under our moral code are not reckoned the best." Her morality "is a morality of the person and of bodily habits, as contrasted with the commercial and public morality of man. Purity, constancy, reserve, and devotion are the qualities in woman which please and flatter the male."

Girls Do the Courting

Like Bernard Shaw in "The Superman" Prof. Thomas contends that it is really the woman and not the man that does the courting.

"The means of attraction she employs," he says, "are so highly elaborated and her technique so finished that she is really more active on the courtship than the man. By dress, modesty, coquetry, indifference, ‘lying low and letting the imagination of the male endow her with depth,’ she plays at once on the protective instinct and the vanity of man, and infatuates him."

Here is his opinion of the modern club woman:

"The American woman of the better classes has superior rights and not duties, and yet she is worrying herself to death — not over specific troubles, but because of her connection with reality. Many women more intelligent and energetic than their husbands and have no more serious occupations than to play the house cat, with or without ornament. It is a wonder that more of them do not lose their minds."

Morality the Effect of Fear.

Morality is some women, he intimates, is the effect of fear of losing the respect of their acquaintances. She behaves all right as long as she is with her people and is known by the whole community, but when she becomes detached from her home and is no longer under surveillance, her restraints are likely to be relaxed. As he said in his recent book, repeats in this magazine article

"Many women of fine natural character and disposition are drawn into an irregular life, but recover and settle down to regular modes of living. In this respect the adventuress is more fortunate than the criminal (that other great adventitious product), because the criminal is labeled and his record follows him, making reformation difficult; while the in-and-out life of woman with reference to what we call virtue is not officially noted and does not bring consequences inevitable; and this interest in greater stimulation, is, I believe, the dominant force in determining the choice — or the drift — of such a woman."

Little Comradeship in Marriage

As for marriage, the professor thinks there is not much comradeship between the average man and his wife, aside from their interest in children.

"What the man and woman need in this connection," he says, "is to come into the same general world of interest, or at least to let their worlds overlap, and this much common ground would be secured through the pursuit on the part of the woman or an art of her own choosing, and the consequent development of an interest in principles apart from persons. Without general ideas and principles conversation cannot go on — I mean conversation as distinguished from talk — and I should regard an occupational interest for women as of value mainly in bringing men and women into the same intellectual world."


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